Cranky Baby Essentials Guide Part Seven:
For Mom & Dad

Posted by: Maggie

As we prepare for baby number two, we’ve pulled out all our baby gear and reviewed all the registry recommendation lists to make sure we have everything we will need. In the process, we’ve reminded ourselves of what was the most useful to us and what we thought we’d need, but didn’t really use. So, I’ve put together this guide to share our knowledge with all the parents-to-be out there. I’ve split it into several categories of baby items and within each I’m sharing the “Must Haves,” “Nice to Haves,” and items that you can “Skip.” I hope you find this useful in prepping for your new baby!


Sleep – This goes without saying, we all need sleep. But those of you who are about to have their first baby will learn, most likely for the very first time, what it’s really like not to sleep. I’ll tell you now, it is worse than you imagine.  Now, I’d give the advice that everyone gives: sleep when your baby sleeps, but I know that you won’t follow it. You’ll be having visitors over, you’ll be trying to take care of things around the house, and you’ll just want a baby-free moment to yourself. So, instead I’m going to suggest three things, first that you put your baby to sleep in his own crib or bassinet from the beginning. Second, refrain from picking your baby up at the first signs of fussing. Periods of fussing are a normal part of their sleep cycle, give them a few minutes and most of the time they’ll put themselves back to sleep.  And lastly that you at least sleep between your three night feedings. That way you’ll get at least 3-6 hours each night.

Support – I have no idea how single parents do it, but I could not manage children without Josh.  Having a partner that truly and equally shares the childcare and housework workload is essential to keeping your sanity and avoiding complete exhaustion. In addition, having friends and family member who can run errands, bring you food, help with housework, or just hold baby while you take a nap can be a huge help.

Food & Water – Mom’s nutrition is as important during breastfeeding as during pregnancy. You’ll be burning about 500 calories a day, just by feeding your baby. So, make sure to have nutritious food and snacks available and drink plenty of water, at least a glass every time you nurse.

Time for Yourself – Being a parent is the hardest job I’ve ever had. Yes, it’s amazing and rewarding and I love it more than anything else I’ve ever done. But seriously, it’s so freaking hard and truly exhausting. Parents need a break. They need some time to feel like themselves and not just mom or dad. I recommend taking a little time each day to do something for yourself, like giving yourself a manicure or enjoying an iced coffee and a little dark chocolate (my favorite!). And be sure to plan some time with friends and some alone time with your partner. As soon as you feel comfortable leaving baby for a few hours plan a date night, and be sure to make it a regular weekly or monthly plan.

Books – I’ve mentioned a couple of important books in Part Two: Get Your Baby To Sleep, I also recommend What to Expect The First Year as an essential reference guide to all your newborn questions.

Right now, I’m reading Secrets of the Baby Whisperer and I’m really loving it. It gives very sensible and easy to follow advice on dealing with a newborn and how to get onto a flexible routine to make your days with your newborn not just manageable, but enjoyable.


Nursing Bras and Shirts – I have yet to find a nursing bra that fits well, is comfortable, and gives me the support I need. I’m sure there are good nursing bras out there, I just haven’t found one. So, I tend to just wear a normal bra that is a demi cup so I can just fold the cup down to nurse. But you should definitely try out some nursing bras to see if anything fits for you. Wait until your milk has come in, there’s no way of knowing what size you’ll need until then, and go to your nearest maternity or nursing store to try some different styles on.

What I do use are sleep bras. I like the Motherhood Maternity Wrap Nursing Sleep Bra. It’s comfortable for both sleeping in and just wearing around the house.

I haven’t purchased any nursing tops.  I had a few that I liked last time around, but haven’t bothered to shop for anything new yet. There are some cute nursing shirts from Boob and Old Navy that I have my eye on, but we’ll see. I hate to buy anything that isn’t essential. If I plan to have to nurse while out in public, I usually just wear a cami that I can pull down and bring a nursing cover up.

Nursing Cover Up – These are great for nursing discretely in public. While I fully support women unashamedly nursing without having to cover-up, I’ll tell you that the reality is there is always some creepy guy who will stare at your boobs while you’re trying to feed your baby and I just prefer to avoid that and cover up. In fact, I actually prefer to pump and bring a bottle with me rather than finding a comfortable place to sit and nurse in public.

iPhone – We didn’t have an iPhone when Eleanor was born. And what a difference having one makes. You will spend A LOT of time just sitting and nursing, and you will need something to do while you are up all night with baby. With Eleanor I set up a laptop and watched DVD after DVD. But now, with my super cool iPhone I can read books, check and reply to emails, chat on Twitter, catch up on Facebook, watch shows on Hulu, and Netflix, track baby’s feeding and sleeping schedule, and keep track of all those newborn doctor’s appointments on my calendar.

Apps – In the first few weeks with baby you’ll be tracking pretty much everything your little one does. When Eleanor was born, Josh created a spreadsheet for that, but now that we have our iPhones we can use an awesome app to do all that for us. Total Baby is my favorite for logging eating, pooping, peeing, and sleeping. It’s really helpful for breastfeeding and getting baby on a schedule. It times your nursing and sleeping for you and creates charts & graphs from all the info logged – super cool and useful. For general tips and milestones I like the What to Expect Baby app.

Massage – Mama’s body has been through a lot, from the last few very uncomfortable months of pregnancy, to childbirth, to carrying around a new infant all day. A massage is just what she needs, whether it be from a professional or just a shoulder rub from a partner, family member, or friend.

Journal – Whether you blog, scrapbook, journal, or keep a baby book, you’ll want to remember when and what all those firsts are that baby will be having. I recommend keeping a small journal or notepad handy so you can jot a quick note down so that you don’t forget later when one of those firsts happened.

Good Camera – Lastly, you’ll want to capture all the incredible moments with your new baby and you’ll definitely need a good camera to do that with. Check out this post about digital cameras to determine whether a point-and-shoot or a DSLR is right for you.

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